By RANDAL C. HILL
Whether you are getting up in years or are taking care of someone who already is, here are some holiday hints to ensure that the Christmas season is a happy and a safe one for all concerned.
Did you know that one in four Americans over 65 suffers a fall each year? Many of these injuries arise from Christmas tree-decorating mishaps involving ladders and stools. If you’re going to reach to hang lights, tinsel or ornaments, have someone stand close by as you, like Neil Armstrong, take that one small step—or two or three.
Every Christmas tree, especially an unwatered one, is a potential fire hazard. Consider switching to an artificial one after you verify the “fire resistant” label. Avoid all decorations made of flammable material such as tissue paper, tinsel or cotton.
Many golden-agers enjoy fixing meals and desserts during the holidays, but cooking accidents are the number-one cause of fires during these festive times. Setting a timer can help avoid a kitchen disaster. Always keep a fire extinguisher handy. Just in case.
Christmas lights and/or illuminated decorations often mean extra cords snaking around the floors. Don’t run cords under carpets or area rugs, and never overload outlets with too many extension cords. At night, be sure that guests have adequate lighting to their bathrooms.
Blocked pathways can be a major concern, especially at this time of year. Keeping walkways free of boxes, cords, and furniture will greatly reduce the likelihood of tripping.
As the season approaches, store parking lots become more crowded—and more dangerous. When driving, be careful of pedestrians, small children, and distracted drivers. Remember that the elderly tend to be slower and less mobile, and therefore a friend or family member should go along for the outing. The ideal time to shop is earlier in the day, before the crowds arrive.
Heart attacks and other heart-related issues spike during the holiday season, so it’s a good idea to consider scaling back on activities that may overwhelm some seniors. Encourage younger family members to help out around the house.
Are you thinking of some practical presents for those special family folks? Consider plug-in night lights, non-slip mats, slippers with sole grips, and bathroom handrails.
Following these common-sense guidelines can help ensure the happiest of holidays. MSN